Sobia Bibi is one of the Way2Work employment advisers at Nottingham City Homes; she visits the busy Mary Potter Centre in Hyson Green every week to speak to people about jobs and training.
As you can imagine, she meets a lot of people face to face, but today as she’s come in to be interviewed for our blog, there’s a surprise in store for us all as we meet her client, Eseosa, who came to Nottingham City Homes for support in 2019.
“I registered online and and that’s when I got a call from Sobia, we met on teams and zoom, we did all that work from 2019 to 2021, so we’ve known each other a long time, but we’ve only just met face to face!”
It’s a really big moment for us all, we weren’t expecting that at all, and it’s amazing to be a part of, especially as Eseosa starts to tell us her story…
What were you doing before you asked Nottingham City Homes for support?
I was really in a dark place. I wasn’t working, my employment was terminated due to a visa issue, I had to apply to the Home Office to renew my visa and it was taking a long time so my employers couldn’t wait. When the call came through from Sobia, I was really in a place where I was looking for someone to talk to, someone who could listen to me, and give me direction. I was in a really difficult place, things just went downhill for me, but you started offering me help, you were there to actually listen to me, as I explained my situation to you.
“When I got in touch with Sobia online, I was just looking for someone who could give me advice on what I should do next with my life because things were just all over me. I remember you saying that if I ever need anything, just to call you, that was good, that felt good.”
Sobia had many calls with Eseosa and advised her to try and meet with Citizens Advice, and to try and contact her MP, to get her visa sorted, which she did. Sobia also shared a lot of contacts; people she could speak to, about the visa issue, and work, all with the aim of offering ways to get help, to get out of the situation she was in.
Eseosa adds; Just to know you were listening, I really appreciated it. I was in a situation where I was waiting for my visa renewal and was just trying to get information on what to do next in my life.
“I was behind with bills, behind in everything, so I was hoping that working with Sobia, I’d find other ways to get some guidance. Being there for me, listening to me, was really helpful, you showed me job vacancies and a whole range of information. You got my rent sorted, got it put on hold to help me out, and my council tax as well.”
So how long were you out of work?
I was out of employment since 2018, and finally got my visa in 2021, so I could then get back into work. During that time I was lost, I was really in a dark place. You know when you realise you’re stuck, and there is no way out, you just know only one thing, what you feel could stop it was to end it all. And I couldn’t do it, because of my children, I couldn’t just leave them behind to take over things how I’d left them.
“I was in a dark place, a really dark place. I was down, I wanted to end it. Seeing you face to face Sobia, I would like to say thank you.”
That’s really hard to hear, Sobia’s help was literally life-changing?
Yes. We all have stages in our life when we know we are completely down, but what can actually bring somebody out of that situation is when you hear somebody say; ‘I am here for you’, it just changes where that person is, in that stage in their life.
Sobia got me in contact with the NHS, I got in contact with them about work but I didn’t have my visa. Every stumbling block was just the visa issue, but I tried, I went back to every contact you gave me, I updated my CV and targeted my CV towards those jobs that were vacant, but my obstacle was the visa. I had good contact with every employer you sent me, if I’d had my visa back then I’d be employed.
How are things with you now?
When I got my visa sorted I went back to the Royal Mail, because I was working with them when my visa expired. My next problem was sitting down to do interviews, and application forms, and you were there to help me too. I applied to a care home and I remember you were online with me when I was filling the form out.
Those are the things that I struggled with, filling out the forms. When I got my visa I went back to what I was used to, that was my previous employer. So now I’m still at the Royal Mail, working on the belt, sorting the mail.
“I still have my fears, but I’m more optimistic now. I think I know my fears, I know my worries, and I could really be destroyed if I don’t take hold of them. Knowing my fears helps me somehow, to work hard to not allow that to happen to me, because that is the only way I could be set back in life.”
It’s a very big drive for me, because I know I’ve always been the type who fights for what I want but if that fight is in the hands of someone else, then I’m defeated, so I don’t want it to be that way for me anymore. I don’t want the next step in my life to be in the hands of someone else.
Sobia adds; I think you’ve grown, with this experience you’ve been through, and you’ve learned. I’ve seen you really low, but with support you’re now in a much better place.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I was a cleaner, I cleaned offices, and I worked in front of house at Nottingham Tennis Centre for ten years, I’ve also been a kitchen porter. When I worked at Royal Mail I was also a waitress at Britannia Hotel, but I lost both jobs when my visa ran out.
Right now I have all this experience, I want to have a skill, I’m a bit all over the place and these are just experiences. Next I’m looking to train myself up in something, that will be my skill. At the moment I’m looking towards women in construction, I’ve been to one of the taster days run by Nottingham City Homes, I’ve booked myself on the next one in July, that’s what I’m looking forward to now.
“I just want to say that anybody you could lend that help to, just listening to them, it will save them because you saved me, you did, you gave me hope, I was alive again.”
The Way2Work project is part-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund (ESF).